Department of Justice reaffirms its promise to protect human rights and undertake justice reforms in UN Human Rights Council Meetings

20 December 2022

Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla reaffirmed on two separate occasions the commitment of the Philippines to protect human rights and divulged plans of reforming the country’s justice and law enforcement sectors.

During the 51st United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) Enhanced Interactive Dialogue held on 05 October 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, Secretary Remulla guaranteed the Philippine government’s efforts to reform its judicial and law enforcement system to be able to deliver “real justice in real time.”

He asked the HRC and partners to listen and understand the context of the challenges on the ground, as investigative and accountability processes between prosecutors and law enforcement were being streamlined to increase chances of success in prosecution.

“Trust that we know best what is good for our people and to work with us to realize the vision of human rights and justice for all,” Secretary Remulla said.

“It makes for a solid foundation of a civilized, democratic society - which is at the heart of Filipino culture, identity and history. We are reforming our system to deliver what out people deserve - real justice in real time,” he added.

The Secretary then cited the initiatives the government has taken so far, including explicit instruction to law enforcers to use force only when required, implementing a disciplinary program for abusive policemen, and refocusing the anti-illegal drug campaign by tackling the source of the problem or the drug suppliers rather than the users.

Secretary Remulla first led the Philippine delegation composed of DOJ Undersecretaries Jesse Hermogenes Andres and Raul Vasquez, Administrative Order 35  (AO 35) Secretariat Head Gino Paulo Santiago, Officer-in-Charge Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Hazel Decena-Valdez, and officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile, at the 4th cycle Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines by the UN HRC on 14 November 2022 also in Geneva, Switzerland, Secretary Remulla assured the Council that there was no culture of impunity in the Philippines, stressing the government “will not tolerate the denial of justice nor any violation of human rights.”

Secretary Remulla apprised the Council on the progress in the implementation of the national agenda on human rights since the 3rd cycle of the UPR in 2017, also noting that the Philippines accepted and implemented 103 of 207 recommendations from said cycle. The accepted recommendations focused on issues related to the right to development; environment; human rights and counter-terrorism; right to life, liberty, and security of persons; administration of justice; prohibition of all forms of slavery; right to privacy and family life; right to work and to just and favorable conditions of work; right to social security; right to adequate standard of living; right to health; right to education; and the rights of women, children, persons with disability, migrants, asylum seekers, internally-displaced persons, and stateless persons, among others.

Joining the Secretary in the delegation were DOJ Undersecretaries Andres and Vasquez, Philippine UN Permanent Representative Evan Garcia, Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS) Undersecretary Severo Catura, and other offficials from the DOJ, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), PHRCS, and the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the UN in Geneva.

The UPR started in 2007 pursuant to UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 60/251 of 2006. It is a State-led review process of the implementation by all UN member states of human rights obligations through a constructive dialogue among states and other stakeholders.

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